Unfortunately for many of us aging includes more time off the bike due to injury, illness, surgery, etc. Fortunately, the more years you’ve been riding the less fitness you’ll lose and the faster you’ll regain it.
Andy writes, “I’m a longtime reader of RBR. I am a 70-year-old long time road bike rider. I ride up to 100 miles a week in the good weather, and run also. Over the past couple of years I have slowed compared to the 60 year olds in the Sunday group. My Strava segment times are 5-10% longer than 4-5 years ago. Probably a loss of muscle mass.
“I am now undergoing cancer treatments for squamous cell cancer in my throat for the next couple of months. During treatment I can exercise as much as I want; however, this has already been very impactful on conditioning.
“The question: Your suggestions for a post treatment reconditioning program to try to recover back to baseline. Would like to do it outside, on the bike and track. Not the gym, although strength training may need to be a part.”
Coach Hughes, Andy, I’m very sorry you have cancer and hope the treatment is successful. You have thousands of miles in your legs and are still riding and running so your exercise prognosis is good.
In How To Slow The Loss Of Fitness & Regain It During Recovery, part 1 I described how you lose fitness physiologically, how to slow the losses and then how to regain fitness.
Cycling performance is the result of good fitness and also five other factors:
Six Success Factors
Success in athletics involves six factors, not just training. As we age we get a little slower just like Andy. We can still ride very well – sometimes better than younger cyclists – if we pay attention to all six of the success factors. When you’re riding less use the opportunity to take a holistic look at how the success factors apply to your cycling.
1. Planning—self-assessment, goal setting and planning the season.
In The Cyclist’s Training Bible, Joe Friel wrote, “An athlete should do the least amount of properly timed, specific training that brings continual improvement.” In other words, just riding more miles doesn’t make you a better cyclist. Riding the right kinds of miles at the right times of the year is what counts.
I wrote several columns about how to plan:
- Seven keys to effective goal setting
- Why you need a cycling training plan
- Planning for your best season ever
Use this time when you’re exercising less to think about your goals and priorities and then develop a plan to reach them. The plan doesn’t have to be detailed –a very general plan is sufficient.
2. Training—aerobic, strength and flexibility conditioning.
In part one of this column I explained in detail how to train for endurance. You mentioned you are losing muscle mass. I wrote a column with you in mind on:
You lose power and speed faster than you lose endurance. You should start intensity workouts when you are able to do so. I’ve written these columns:
- Why increasing intensity is good for all roadies
- Anti-Aging: the benefits of training with intensity
- Six kinds of intensity training: which one is best for you?
3. Mental skills—focusing and relaxation techniques and dealing with potential hard times during a ride.
Here’s where you and other older riders can develop a significant advantage over younger physiologically stronger riders! I wrote these columns:
4. Nutrition—nourishment during training and fuel during the ride and for recovery.
The quality of your nutrition has a great effect on your daily life and your longevity as well as on your riding. This is an opportunity to review your nutrition and make appropriate changes. I suggest reading these columns about ride nutrition:
- What should a beginning cyclist eat and drink part 1, which also applies to veterans.
- What should a beginning cyclist eat and drink part 2.
- Anti-Aging seven nutrition myths
- 14 nutrition tips for endurance riders
You might also enjoy the movie Eat, Race, Win on Amazon follows the Orica-Scott team in the 2017 Tour de France as they race to put Yates in the white jersey as the best young rider. Hannah Grant, the chef for the team, narrates the video and shows how her nutrition for the riders supports superb racing.
5. Equipment—bike selection and fit, clothing, accessories and bike maintenance.
While you’re exercising less review all your equipment. If you haven’t had a bike fit recently now’s the time to get one. Here’s my column on:
6. Technique – safety, riding efficiently, group riding and pacing during events.
I can’t emphasize enough learning more about how to ride safely even if you’ve been riding for many years. Here are two column including many contributions from RBR readers:
Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process
My eBook Anti-aging 12 ways you can slow the aging process has chapters on:
- Physiology of aging
- Assessing your strengths and weakness
- Endurance riding including sample weeks and months for riders of different levels
- Intensity training – not for everyone!
- Strength training including an illustrated program using things you have around the house.
- Stretching including an illustrated program
- Weight bearing and balance exercise
The 106-page eBook Anti-aging 12 ways you can slow the aging process is $14.99
Cycling Past 50, 60 and Beyond bundle includes:
- Fit for Life, I show you that by exercising in different ways you can stay fitter than if you just ride your road bike.
- Peak Fitness, I provide specific week-by-week workouts designed to make any rider a better, fitter cyclist.
- Training with Intensity, I explain the physiological benefits of riding with intensity and how doing some hard riding slows the aging process and delivers an array of benefits at any age.
The 100-page Cycling Past 50, 60 and Beyond bundle is $13.50.
If you exercise correctly, you can slow the effects of aging; if you exercise incorrectly, you can speed up aging.
- Cycling Past 60, Part 1 for Health I give you six different health maintenance objectives for different components of your physiology, including comprehensive fitness programs that address these objectives.
- Cycling Past 60, Part 2: For Recreation builds on the foundation of information for 60+ riders in Part 1and uses the concept of “Athletic Maturity” to design more rigorous programs for more athletically mature riders. It includes six different structured workout programs, three each for Endurance and Performance cyclists, based on levels of athletic maturity. The two-part Cycling Past 60 bundle is $8.98
Healthy Nutrition Past 50 The 28-page eArticle explains the key role of carbohydrates, how much protein you need, the importance of fat and healthy food choices. It reviews what to consume while exercising, including the key roles of carbohydrates, fluid and electrolytes.
Gaining a Mental Edge: Using Sports Psychology to Improve Your Cycling will teach you how to: 1) Set goals, 2) Stay motivated, 3) Build confidence, 4) Develop a game plan, 5) Focus during an event, 6) Tactically manage your ride during an event, and 7) Deal with pain.
Stop Cycling’s Showstoppers is about prevention. I address all of the things that can go wrong and interfere with a ride. I explain how to avoid issues involving equipment, nutrition, weather, ailments, injuries, discouragement, and more. In addition, this eBook is a valuable primer on topics such as riding comfort, training and riding skills. Stop Cycling’s Showstoppers is a workbook to help you diagnose and prevent problems. The 65-page Stop Cycling’s Showstoppers is $14.95.
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written nearly 30 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.